Biology

Jew Do You Think You Are?

Whenever someone implies that anti-Semitism isn’t racism, I point out that it’s one of the few examples of discrimination that really is racism (unlike, for example, the invented thoughtcrime “Islamophobia”1 ) because the Ashkenazi Jewish population is as close as you can get scientifically to the common (and deeply flawed) notion of what a “race” […]

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Always To The Swift

This is a neat little article that sketches out why your skin colour doesn’t determine your chance of growing up to become an elite sprinter; but your genetic make-up might: There are no sprinters of note from Asia, even with more than 50 percent of the world’s population, a Confucian and Tao tradition of discipline, […]

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Jurassic Car Park

There’s a US marine biologist on BBC Radio 4 talking about the leatherback turtles that she and her team have been tagging. Apparently an adult leatherback grows to the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. Wikipedia concurs—and also points out that this makes the leatherback only the fourth largest reptile, after some crocodilians. I’m scared now.

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Double Exposure With Cream

Remember that very “English” black-and-white print I made of a café in Hove? This supersaturated colour medium-format slide film shot of another corner café, taken in Argentina, is a nice counterpoint to it; even the angles of the shadows are similar. As the photographer says, the stock it was taken with came out of the […]

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Special End-Of-The-World Science Edition

Years ago, PooterGeek featured the “Exxxtreme Mini-Bears”, tiny, hardy, beautiful living creatures called tardigrades. Turns out they are even hardier than thought. Some of them can survive being sent into space. The “TARDigrades in Space project is, of course, going by the acronym “TARDIS”. How long before the BBC sues? This is also a lovely […]

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Top Tip

You certainly don’t want to go walking through a field of disoriented, agitated and wet honey bees. — Richard Duplain, vice president of the New Brunswick [Canada] Beekeepers Association Unfortunately for one journalist, not everyone got Mr Duplain’s advice in time, says this story. [Thanks, Sue]

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Pussy Pedantry

My last post prompted a reader to send me photos of her tortoiseshell cats. [Thank you!] Such a flow of cat pics is of course unconventional in cat blogging, but it gives me an opportunity to point out that it’s only some of the much rarer male tortoiseshells that are the true chimeras, mixtures from […]

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Growing Up

[UPDATE: Edited to use the version of the body text that actually makes some sense with the originally posted title.] I’m not that old, so I’m often puzzled by people who make historical pronouncements in ignorance of recent, relevant history, sometimes history that happened within their lifetimes but not mine. Of course, as Catholic dogma […]

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Busy Tone

I’m so tired with work I’m starting to have hallucinations. I’d swear Richard Dawkins starts rapping 1 minute and 6 seconds into this YouTube video. (Christopher Hitchens throws shapes from 1:49 or thereabouts.) Go here for the torrent. [via]

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The Irreligious Policemen

Not having a telly, I didn’t catch the latest from Richard Dawkins, but when I visited his Website to look for clips, I saw this photo of him: All I could think of was Michael Mann directing Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens in an atheist actioner: [A convertible Ferrari screams through downtown in slow motion, reflections […]

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Philosophers: 2 — Scientists: 0

Last Friday I found myself stuck in a room in a Cambridge college waiting to do a photo job so I took Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations down from a shelf and, as an intellectual dwarf perched on Hindsight the Giant, sneered at it. Certain things he said appear absurd in the light of certain experimental […]

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Size Matters

I used to work for a Professor whose academic homepage listed among his interests “sperm production”. If you want evidence that female animals can be as promiscuous as male animals you should have a browse through the literature on sperm competition. In the case of ducks, that promiscuity is not necessarily the females’ choice, so […]

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Attack Of The Man-Eating Stick Insects

It seems my former employers have funded research into an amazing new drug: Scientists are developing a pill which could boost women’s libido and reduce their appetite. The hormone-releasing pill has so far only been given to female monkeys and shrews who displayed more mating behaviour and ate less. The team from the Medical Research […]

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Doing Wrong

Friends have told me that my obsession with freewill and my belief that there is such a thing as evil are products of my Catholic upbringing. They are, in fact, products of personal experience and of a long, dull training in human biology. I know people who simply do not believe in evil. They are […]

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In Clones Send The

With their characteristically English lack of ambition, scientists from Newcastle University and KCL have applied for a three-year licence from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to make chimaeric human-cow embryos. The similarly small-minded Korean authorities have been doing their damnedest to bring low the genius of visionary Hwang Woo-suk: Seoul, South Korea (AHN) – […]

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But Someone’s Got To Do It

I couldn’t be bothered to fisk that nonsense about the “future evolution” of humankind that was all over the media this week, merely dropping it into my “Pseudoscience” and “Tin Foil Hat Wearers” blog categories in passing instead. Luckily we have P Z Myers to do the job properly.

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Two More Apologies

In response to the previous PooterGeek post I received an email from a reader in Dulwich who wishes to make it clear that, despite buying property there, the Thatchers never actually took up residence in her neighbourhood. I’m sorry for suggesting otherwise. I’ve also toned down the language I used about Susan Greenfield back here […]

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Honestly, I’m Completely Straight

If you are a middle-aged man then two things are going to happen to your hair soon: it’s going to fall out and it’s going to turn grey. My dad managed to escape both of these until he reached 60 years of age, but everyone accused him (unfairly) of using Grecian 2000, so he didn’t […]

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Blonde Biology Babe

So obvious I didn’t think of her, though she probably refuses to self-identify as blonde: Hot Wheels Helena! Babes Of Biology No. 3: Miss July[click to enlarge] Helena has a PhD in biotechnology and her interests include killer bugs and driving quickly but very, very safely. If she wins Miss Biology 2007 she’d like to travel around the World as an […]

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Babes Of Biology: No. 2

Having read an article I wrote reviewing bioinformatics courses in the UK, and despite my honest warnings, Wei applied to be a student on one I once taught on. Because the admissions office at [insert name of educational institution easily obtained by googling] failed to process her paperwork properly she had to make do with […]

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Geek Aesthetics

“Hot Wheels” Helena acquired her nickname because, despite being an Advanced Driver who can cadence-brake, control-gear, and turn into skids with the best of them, she used to get about in an ancient Mini Metro Rover 100—and get me about in it when she was my Genome Campus car-sharing partner. She’s ruined the (weak) joke now by […]

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Mmm! Pork With All The Oily Goodness Of Roundworm

The genetic revolution brings you a “healthier” fry-up: Geneticists have mixed DNA from the roundworm C. elegans and pigs to produce swine with significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids — the kind believed to stave off heart disease [hmmm…]. Researchers hope they can improve the technique in pork and do the same in chickens and […]

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Anti-Social Behaviour: Theory And Fieldwork

Yesterday I had an excellent evening of argument. I spent it contending that, since our emergence, we human beings have been, for plausible biological reasons, fundamentally aggressive and suspicious of visibly different members of our own species. In reply it was argued that our behaviour towards others has been characterised by altruistic tendencies and trade. […]

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